Sitting a few miles west of the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Va. is the Ragged Mountain Natural Area, a large chunk of land with miles of trails that snake through the forest.
Ragged Mountain Natural Area is still within the Charlottesville city limits, and it's a short drive — 3-6 miles, depending on where you are — from the campus. One you get there, there's seven miles of trails to explore.
This protected area, which is managed by the City of Charlottesville, consists of 980 acres of forest with several types of trees in the wildlife-rich forest. Seven miles of trails (on three major routes) surround the Charlottesville Reservoir, with a proposed new section of trail that follows the northwest side of the body of water.
Hikers looking for a challenge and epic views can check out Round Top Mountain, a 900-foot peak on the eastern edge of the area. From there, the other trails encircle more than half of the reservoir, offering nice water views.
Ragged Mountain is a wonderful place to hike, it's also a fun spot to view some birds and other wildlife. So enjoy your walk through the forest with countless species of birds serenading you with their songs. Since some of the areas around the reservoir tend to get muddy wear appropriate boots.
If you're visiting Charlottesville and are looking for a place to spend a few quiet hours on a weekend, head to the Ragged Mountain Natural Area. None of the trails are too difficult, but if you're looking for some elevation hop on the Round Top trail and enjoy the views at the summit.
The other trails snake along the many fingers of the Charlottesville Reservoir, and these are not too challenging, although there are some hilly sections.
Park rules prohibit trail running and camping in an effort to maintain the park's natural condition. Dogs are also not allowed.